New Again by Necessity

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I’ve been writing a lot about new things lately, and here’s another one because something new is on my horizon.  A new computer, to be specific.  Mine has been BSODing all over the place, and I think it is not long for this world. I haven’t lost any writing yet, but I believe when you’re given the signs you heed them.

So today while I’m running the backup that I thought my computer was running, I am blogging from my phone. That’s right, my phone. I’ve definitely never done this before. New things!

I’m a pretty slow phone typist, so I’m alternating between typing and using the Voice app. And my phone seems to insist on capitalizing Voice app. It also doesn’t like to start a sentence with a capital letter, but I guess that’s a minor issue?

There are so many ways to get things done these days. There is no one way for anything anymore. Is this the best way to do it? I don’t really think so, it feels so cumbersome and just odd. Though  maybe the talking is faster than typing. At least when the app gets it right.

But I guess what I’m saying is it’s okay to do things differently  even if there is one way you’ve always done them, even if the new way feels awkward.  Even if something weird happens and you lose half of the last paragraph. Not that that is what just happened, except it is.

Sometimes new things have kinks to work out. Sometimes we have to feel our way until we figure out what the heck we’re doing. And sometimes we have to sit in that awkward feeling and push through until we are done. Like I am now.

Look at this! it’s a phone blog post!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Try Something New and the New Keeps Coming

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This weekend, one of my writing class classmates had a staged reading of her television pilot. A bunch of us went to support her and to give her feedback on her work, and then hung out afterward with her, her girlfriend, some of the cast and a few of her friends. Two of the members of our class were reading, something I didn’t realize until I saw them there.

While we were sitting outside on the patio, some with drinks, some having just had some food, people talking and laughing as a breeze swirled the humidity, I had a sharp, singular thought.

Taking one risk brought me to that spot so outside of where I would normally be, and that was good.

The thing is that I wouldn’t have met any of the people in my class in the normal routine of my life. I certainly wouldn’t have spent an evening with them; I am definitely the oldest person in class, and have been since Writing 1.

And if I’m being honest, I don’t know if I would have thought I’d connect to 20-somethings in this way, enough to hang out with them on a Saturday night, but I genuinely like and respect them. Maybe the facelessness of the internet has a positive side effect in that you can see the value and essence of a person without the external trappings, and once you adjust to it virtually, you start to change your perception in the day-to-day.

Besides, they’re a talented, mature, grounded bunch. And they’re freaking hilarious.

In life, it seems that we see what what we expect. We have to fight complacency, fight routine, fight inertia before the haze parts, even for a second, and we see a glimmer of possibility.

Odds are I’m not gong to be a sketch comedy writer. But I’ve done more with this course than learn how to fill five minutes on stage, and I didn’t even have to pay extra.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Vikings in the Field

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IMG_9353Honestly, I think Monday cut in line this week. There’s no way it can really be Monday already. Again.

Quite the attention hog.

I had an unusually packed weekend, which included a trip to Chicago’s Field Museum. It’s a definite must if you are ever in town, it’s a gorgeous place packed with amazing things. Less amazing, however, was the Vikings special exhibit.

In the spirit of honesty, it was boring. Very, very boring. Though the text panels and display cases were sleek and gleaming, it was a dusty exhibit with all the exuberance of a book report, meticulously — but reluctantly — assembled. Many of the objects in the cases were copies, which I found disingenuous. I understand the use of copies and replicas if you are going to construct dioramas to put objects into context, to give them life, to connect to the people, but if you are going to encase something in glass, it better be worth encasing.

There was a time at the Field when the special exhibits were, indeed, special. They were immersive and enlightening, with information presented in engaging, novel ways that brought the subject to life.

The exhibit wasn’t helped by the reality that we really don’t have a lot of information on the people we call “Vikings,” or even the meaning of the word itself, so most of the explanations were couched in wishy-washy “probably,” or “might” language.

But what bothered me most about it was the utter lack of the humans behind the objects and replica objects in glass. There was no feel for the people themselves, and isn’t that the whole point of that type of exhibit?

So in all, I was somewhat disappointed. But it didn’t stop me from taking some pictures.

IMG_9361
IMG_9369 IMG_9376Sue, the fearsome T. Rex. Or most of her, anyway. Her real head is located above her on that balcony to the left. Due to the fossilization process, it’s too heavy to mount with the rest of her skeleton. Sue is the most complete T. Rex skeleton ever found.

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Much less fearsome dinosaur than Sue. And as far as I know, he didn’t eat a single person.

IMG_9398And so it began. There were a lot of signs with a lot of text. So much text that they suggested that if if you tend to read a lot in exhibits, you borrow a booklet so you could keep things moving in the exhibit.

IMG_9417I think this is real. Definitely real, though, is my reflection taking the picture. Hi everyone!

IMG_9555 IMG_9560And weapons, because Vikings! (And yes, that does make me sound like I learned nothing from the exhibit).

Now, in retrospect, looking at my photos, I think I may have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information, and a little claustrophobic with the crowds. Oh well, I can read my text photos without the woman in the striped shirt ahead of me always making sure she was exactly where I wanted to photograph.

I’d still say visit the Field regardless because it is fantastic. And check out the Vikings if you are so inclined, there is a lot to see.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Seizingish the Day

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So the drillers are back. And back with a vengeance: they’re literally right outside my window. I can hear them talking, rapid Spanish flowing between bouts of drilling. It’s an earplug-and-airplane-runway-director-person kind of a day.

I could go out somewhere, do something relaxing and/or fun, just to get away from the noise, but today I have things I have to do, and writing I want to write. And not homework writing, either. Yes, it was that homework that kept me from my blog yesterday, and now I have a whole almost week until more is due. Yay.

That homework is hard, and I don’t appear to be that good at it. Not as yay.

But that’s enough griping about an entirely voluntary situation. Some of my classmates opted not to do the assignment at all, which I guess is one way to deal with a challenge that feels, when you try it on, much like a sandpaper cardigan lined with flat jokes, but I just took out the old bicycle pump and tried to patch the holes.

Oh, hello, hypothetical reader. What’s that? You lost the thread of that metaphor about halfway in? Why, hypothetical reader, I’m surprised at you.  It’s as clear as a dewdrop’s reflection on a rolling fog.

Anyway, right now I’m hearing nothing, but I can’t tell if it’s my layered sound proofing or that they’ve stopped. Either way, it’s quiet right now, and I’ll take it.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Me? Distracted? Never!

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Well, after two days of luxuriating in glorious drill-free silence, with the blinds open without fear of coming face-to-face with a man far outside where nature intended, the workers are back. Ish, it appears. The drilling is coming in splatters and sputters.

Manageable, though. Definitely manageable.

Which it needs to be today. I haven’t even started my scene for class yet. And worse, last week’s homework inspired the nugget of a new project, and I haven’t had a chance yet to start it. And let us all say together: aaarrgghh.

That’s the way of writing, isn’t it? Distractions, tiny little nuisance distractions find water somewhere and they grow to 10,000 times their original size. The ideas you have are never for the project you need to work on, they’re always for something newer, shinier, blanker, un-used-up.

Sometimes I wish writing was like a spigot, righty-tighty, lefty loosey. Just open that faucet and the work comes pouring out as your fingers move methodically, melodically across the keyboard. And as I wrote that sentence I realized my fingernails had become an uncomfortable typing length and I had to go cut them. I hope you’ll forgive the interruption.

Anybody remember something I said about distractions? It seems like it might be relevant here somehow. If only I could make that connection.

So off to the back-burner, new idea. I’ve got homework to do. And I’m going to do it. I swear. Only I have a couple of things to do first.

Procrastination? What? Why on earth would you say that, hypothetical reader? I can’t see what procrastination has to do with anything. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go rotate my refrigerator shelves. Kitchen maintenance never ends.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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The Uberfication

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I ubered my first Uber. For anyone unfamiliar with it, Uber is basically an unlicensed taxi service, more euphemistically referred to as a “ride sharing service.” It would be ride “sharing” if the driver were, you know, already going where you’re going, but they’re going there because you ask them to. And then you pay them for it.

As I said, an unlicensed taxi service.

Given the lack of the cost of a medallion and any of the other requirements for taxis in a city, Uber is, unsurprisingly, often cheaper, unless you use it during a “surge” time, meaning a time when demand is high. Then they really nail you.

Everybody up to speed? Excellent.

I was reluctant to try it, but I went to dinner with friends for my birthday last week and one of them, an Uber aficionado (how fun of a language mix is that?!) insisted on sending one for me. And then she got one for me to go home, as the empty cabs filed past (we were in a very cabby part of town).

It was a lot like taking a cab, but without the divider. The cars were both very clean and comfortable, and I sat in the back as the driver drove. One was chattier than the other, but again, that’s like a cab.

But I may try it again. Why? Because I can get one without having to have cash. Yes, all cabs in Chicago take credit cards now. In theory. I’ve heard the horror stories when the cabbies refuse them, and I’ve never felt comfortable using those card readers.

With Uber, it’s all handled online. And although I live in a cab-rich area, you can’t always find one everywhere.

So there it is. I was reluctant, and if I’m being very honest — and I do my best to be — scared to try something so completely foreign to me. I was so used to doing things the way I’ve always done them that branching out, even slightly, seemed unsettling.

But I did it. Really, I was nudged into it firmly, but that still counts, right?

Hanging In

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IMG_9051Today let’s talk a little bit about hanging in there. A few years ago, I got to the Chicago Botanic Garden just in time to see the crab apple trees in full bloom. As an aside, it’s such an ugly name for such a beautiful tree, but that’s not my point.

Ever since then, every spring, I head to the Garden with the hope of catching that ephemeral moment when the branches are explosions of petals, enough to weave a tapestry above your head. And every year since I’ve missed it.

Until this year.

This year, for three weeks running, I went out to the Garden in all kinds of weather. It was cold and it was windy; one weekend it was sunny and packed to the gills; and then this week, it was freezing. But I didn’t care. When I got to the path by the lake at the back, there they were, the trees in full spring glory. My camera and I were very happy.

And here’s the truth. I nearly didn’t go. It was cold, and not just chilly, after the nearly 80 degrees the day before, the temperature dropped 30 degrees. But I knew that after checking and checking, this would be the week.

It was so worth it. The beauty of them, all lined up along the path, was magical. Soon this forest of white and pink petals will be nothing but lush, verdant green, and it’s difficult to imagine that complete transformation.

But for one glorious week, there they are in full, perfect bloom.

A few more pics for you:IMG_8762 IMG_8896
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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!